Fairport’s 34th Cropredy Convention 2015

Cropredy summer festival of folk and rock is a priceless piece of England’s musical jigsaw. This year the traditional three-day three-generation shenanigans take place 13th-15th August (Thursday-Saturday). The line-up is a classic Cropredy cocktail of something-for-everyone – a folky festival, but not a folk festival, offering a musical mud-pie ranging from reggae to prog to baroque-pop. You’ll find most journos use review jargon like ‘iconic’ or ‘eclectic’.

Held annually since the 1970s, Cropredy is an event every music lover should visit at least once: a vital window into the traditions of “folk” and the evolution of popular music. More importantly, though, it’s a perfect chance to eat, drink and be merry in rural Oxfordshire, accompanied by a 20,000-strong throng of ex-hippies, happy families, and probably more friendly people than any other event on the UK festival calendar. Posh websites might mention its ‘ambience’.

The music?  Well,  this year’s ‘global superstar’ is 13-Grammy country-music legend Emmylou Harris, who headlines Thursday with side-kick Rodney Crowell.  Under-30s will discover new delights in a bunch of 70s and 80s favourites, including Fish (ex Marillion), Paul Carrack (ex just-about-everyone from Roxy Music to Squeeze), Toyah Wilcox, and Friday’s closing crowd-pleasers: The Proclaimers and Level 42. Folk fans will have a torrent of traditional treats, including Skerryvore, Skinny Lister and ahab. Our personal must-see this year is Katzenjammer, Oslo’s ridiculously talented and under-rated all-girl folk-rockers.

The full line up is online here.

The festival will close, of course, just as it started, with Fairport Convention on Saturday. Posh websites might call the band ‘seminal’ AND ‘iconic’. These guys didn’t invent folk-rock, but they certainly defined its direction, and they will doubtless recruit some special friends to help them end the summer in style.

But… a festival isn’t just about the music, and Cropredy (the tiny village) deserves its own plaudits, because it is the location which makes this festival unique. The festival bell is sounded from the 13th century ironstone village church, and the festival campfields lie on the site of Cropredy’s bloody battles in the English Civil War. The Oxford canal meanders through the site, and thatched cottages border nearby roads.

We’re no strangers to this quintessentially English summer institution and we’re confident that Cropredy will again be steeped in camaraderie and goodwill over the festival weekend. Cropredy newbies will be as welcome as geriatric folkies to enjoy not just the lovingly curated line-up, but all the quirky festival-weekend features, from the cricket-field car-boot sale to the canoe-club dingbats, from the canal-side markets to the excellent festival food (we look forward to gobbling a glut of Leon’s fresh vegetarian fare).  

To sum up: we’re folking excited for furious fiddle-playing, fresh falafel, new friends and multiple jugs of Wadworth 6X ale. See you there. 

Words by Alex Durham and Joe Durham